These days, it’s important for schools to make sure that they have a good relationship with their local communities. Not only is it good for students, but there are also benefits for teachers, and the wider school as a whole – both in and out of the classroom.
Increased student attendance
Research has shown that schools with high levels of community support will also have high levels of student attendance. A report by the National Education Association, in the US, stated that “when schools, parents, families, and communities work together to support learning, students tend to earn higher grades, attend school more regularly, stay in school longer, and enrol in higher level programs” – and that’s just as true then as it is today. By inviting parents and family members to be more involved with the school community, students and their families can begin to feel more involved in their education, and therefore more likely to attend classes and be more engaged with their day-to-day learning.
Teaching students new skills
Increased community support, and connections with the wider community, can also help schools offer students more extracurricular support. This can give students a chance to learn new skills that otherwise they might have never encountered, and help us to offer them an all-round education. There are many ways that schools can engage with the community, from welcoming local professionals to the school for talks and workshops, to encouraging students to volunteer their time at nearby charities or organisations. This way, students have a chance to encounter people or experiences that would have typically been outside the curriculum, and it can help to prepare them for life after education – something integral to the way Aldenham Education Group operates. At AEG, we have more than four centuries of academic experience, and are always looking to the future. We’ve committed ourselves not only to helping our pupils become the best versions of themselves, but also to finding their individual purpose and unique talents, whatever they might be.
Better mental health
A more connected school community can give students and their families a chance to be a part of the school, and give students a sense of belonging. Having that will make them feel more welcome, and more accepted by their teachers and their classmates, which can have a positive impact on their mental health. Mental health is just as important as physical health, especially for children who are still growing and developing. Our students are at the heart of everything we do, and we want to inspire a love of learning in all of them, all while ensuring they have the flexibility to develop their own abilities and talents – and they can only do that by focusing on their mental wellbeing. According to a report by The Children’s Society, 70% of young people who experience mental health problems don’t receive any help at a sufficiently early age.
A school that’s truly part of the community, like one of our Aldenham schools, can give students a wide support network. With more people looking out for the students, any mental health issues are more likely to be picked up earlier, and we can make sure that students are offered the help they need. At Aldenham, we aim to respond and be sympathetic to the mental health needs of all our pupils. Maintaining positive mental health is important, and we want our students to flourish – students with better mental health are also more likely to be engaged with their lessons, and continue with their education later in life.
The benefits for teachers
It’s not just students who can reap the benefits of giving back to the community – teachers can, as well. Getting families and others involved with students’ education can help to offer the students a more well-rounded education. After all, a student doesn’t stop learning when the school day ends. Children don’t live and learn in a vacuum – as the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. With others supporting them and helping out in many ways, teachers can focus more on delivering the best academic experience possible. It also gives teachers a chance to learn more about their students and their educational needs, so they can better understand where they need help with their learning. Here at AEG, one of our key aims has long been to foster good relationships and partnerships between staff, pupils, parents and the wider community. Schools that have clear links to their community are also more likely to see an improvement in their reputation. As people begin to feel more connected with the school, they’re likely to endorse it to others and spread the word, which will also reflect well on the teachers.
What schools can do
Only between 10 and 20% of a child’s waking hours are spent in a school – the rest of their time is spent either at home or in the wider community. Therefore, it’s important that schools stay connected. Schools should be asking themselves questions like, ‘What resources in the school community could we tap into?’ or ‘What new partnerships can we build?’ Schools can organise events with local businesses or organisations, or even invite people to run extra-curricular programs. By building bridges, schools can help themselves, the local community – and more importantly, the students.
By engaging more with families and the community, we believe schools can give their students rich and stimulating experiences, as well as create a culture based around the values of empathy and belonging. Schools don’t exist in isolation, so building bridges is important, and can help to foster a lifelong love of learning in students. Our newest school, Aldenham Prep Riyadh, opened its doors in September, and is already deeply embedded in the local community. The first Aldenham school in the region, it has integrated the timeless traditions of a British education with local values and principles, to offer students a complete all-round education.
We believe connecting children – and schools – to their local communities can open up a wealth of opportunities, and enrich a child’s educational experience. From motivating children to improving their mental wellbeing, a connected community can ensure a school offers an all-round education. Our Aldenham schools are an integral part of the community, and can count on the loyal support of everyone from students and their parents to staff and former students, who all contribute to make sure that we can offer an outstanding experience. Head to the Aldenham UK website to find out more about the Aldenham community and some of our charitable endeavours.